Libya needs someone really neutral. Interview with the presidential candidate Mayouf Amarif

By Vanessa Tomassini.

Confidence is still lacking among the Libyans. Ten years of strife, deaths, injuries and losses are hard to forget. “Libya today needs someone truly neutral, equidistant from all parties”. Professor Mayouf Amarif, candidate in the presidential elections, is convinced of this. Professor Amarif is resident and teach at the Sabha University, in the southern Libya capital, where tension has reached an unexpected level in the past days. He says to be a completely independent candidate, exactly what Libya probably needs today.

Professor Amarif Mayouf, thank you first of all for accepting this interview. How do you get involved in politics and why you decided to candidate for Libya presidency?

“I have really strong motivations, starting from the fact that we – in Libya – really need someone completely independent to avoid all the conflicts going on in the last eleven years. I have the knowledge of what all the Libyans need, a person who should be as much as independent she or he could be”.

How are you living this particular moment especially in Sabha?

“The situation in all the country not only in Sabha is complicated and not only for me actually but for all the candidates. Even for who thinks to be really an expertise in politics. The situation is completely new, a big consciousness is growing around. We live this moment counting the days. Every day, we don’t know if we are going further as at any time everything might be canceled or postponed. So, this is the most concern that we are living in now: how these elections are going to be implemented successfully, and if the result will be accepted whatever it is.”

Do you think all the parties will accept the results?

“I think yes, most of the parties will accept it. Some of them who think that might be affected by who is going to be the president will reject it. Some people will be very consciousness to who will be in charge of this country and they are afraid accordingly. Those people are afraid of that but most of the candidates has no fear”.

What is your political program and your priorities if you will be elected president of Libya?

My ideology is to work on the causes and not on the effects. I will focus on the reason behind any issue. For example, I will focus on fear. Because fear is behind people handling guns and many other phenomena. I will work for the Government decentralization, supporting the local governance and assigning most of the responsibility and decision-making process to the Municipalities and local districts. My action will concentrate on Libyan families, particularly on women and children, to guarantee a new generation on the right path for the country’s future”. 

How is the general situation of Libyan universities, did they also suffer of the political conflict?

“Of course, they are suffering, there is an extensive declining of the Universities performance, at the students’ level, professors’ level and staff level. A declining caused by technical issue like power cuts, covid-19 in the last two years, the political fragmentation, and by other administrative matters as well. Especially concerning Sabha, as it is the only city in Libya to have been under two governments. Tripoli has one, Benghazi has one. But we had two.”

It should be better, no? You should have received more services actually…

Yes, if both the Governments were looking to make us happy. In some parts we can say that we were lucky. But the problem was technical. Unfortunately, many students lost the high motivation that they should have, of working, getting better job, employment. But there are no international companies here, no financial promotion since 2015. Because of the liquidity problem in the banks, the issue of oil and gas, a lot of people became even unable to reach the university. All these issues, in addition to the demotivation, negatively affected our universities. Despite all, the University of Sabha tries to survive, we are doing our best. The best demonstration is that the number of students for year is almost the same. Most of them are female as the boys usually join the military, prefer go to work or doing something physically for their family or for themselves. I have some classes where 99% of the students are girls”.

Did you already selected your ministers in case you will be elected?

“I am struggling to make a neutral government without a color or an identity as many people have been already involved. I am open to anyone, not only technocrats. I strongly believe that at this stage we need people far the same distance from all the parties”.

What do you think of the recent events in your city Sabha after the exclusion of Saif Ghaddafi from the presidential race?

“The situation is really controversial. Unfortunately, the judiciary system continues to postpone his case. This postponement gives more hope to Saif al Islam followers and less to the others and vice versa. I am concerned that delaying the verdict on Saif al Islam appeal might causes social tensions as people are gathering in front of the Court every day, more and more, and we have seen also the supporters of the other political side of the country gathering as well. I am personally not happy with this delay”.

A good president should love his Country, do you agree?

“Yes, sure”.

So, when a candidate sees his candidacy is causing other problems, other sufferings to his citizens, you do not think they should withdraw from this electoral process?

“Absolutely right. In fact, for me, a number of four or five candidates should not have submitted their candidacy, before withdrawing. Especially at this stage, for these elections. Their candidacy caused fear and disappointment for many. I wished they were not there for these elections to go forward. Now, about their withdraw, I don’t know… From the beginning I was thinking they were going to support the electoral moment without being part of it. I don’t know why they did this, maybe they think those will be the only and last elections. If I was in their place, I wouldn’t go for elections for my country as you said because people still not trust each other. Being on the candidates’ platform increase fear and distrust for others.”

What is your position regarding the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libyan territory?

“It is very important and for me the withdrawal must be gradual to replace the fear with trust. At the end of the day, this is a decision that everyone should take. There is no need for such existence. In case I will be elected to lead the country, I will work to restabilise trust among both sides.”

What about the Reconciliation process?

“The Reconciliation is an inevitable fate as we are all living in the same land. We have to decrease losses and save more lives. The only point that I intend to add is support this process with the judiciary procedures. Without compensations and justice, the Reconciliation will not last. We will work on it socially as well at the judiciary level to make the Reconciliation’ results permanent. To make it successful, I will work also with third parties, like tribes from other countries in Egypt, or Saudia Arabia for example, to make it more official.”

One last word for your citizen, the Libyan people.

“I want to tell them that this is a great chance for us to go forward. Do not look at your past, whatever have been your losses, or how big your problems have been. These elections are a great chance available for all of us. Let’s go on with the electoral process! Candidates be ready, convince your people. Voters, go and make your choice. Not going to vote doesn’t mean zero, but plus one for the other side. I always tell them so, there is no neutrality on this procedure. Trust the High National Electoral Commission, trust the results! Trust our people and if they do not select us this time, we will keep convincing them for the next. Thank you for having me here.”

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